Carp fishing is more than a hobby for me; it’s an absolute passion, which went way beyond ‘obsession’ status many years ago! The only problem I have with fishing is that I don’t get enough time to do it, and so over the years, with family and work commitments all vying for ever-greater amounts of my time, I’ve found myself going to extreme lengths to maximise every available second of my fishing time when I do manage to venture out.
For most anglers, a session starts once they get to the water, at which point it takes them half an hour to get everything to the swim, half an hour to put the bivvy up and another half hour to sort rigs, bait the rods and get them in. Many years ago, when time held no real consequence, I dare say I fished in much the same way, but now I shudder at the thought…all those lost hours of fishing!
With most of my sessions over the last few years being 10-12 hour overnighters, a lost hour setting up would be a massive amount of time, and thus it’s something I simply can’t afford to let happen. Therefore, I now do as much as I can to utilise every second of available time on the bank, and do anything I can speed up the amount of time it takes to get my rods in the water – which ultimately has led to my sessions starting back at the house!
Whilst many anglers start making rigs, tying up bags and goodness knows what else on the bank, every facet of my set up is pre-made, pre-tied, and ready to go the moment I get to the swim. The result is that when I get there I can be totally focused on the fishing, and can, quite literally, be fully set up and fishing with all rods out in about fifteen minutes – many of my mates would still be getting their stuff to the swim after fifteen minutes!
It goes without saying that all of my gear is totally lightweight and streamlined. I only take the things I will actually need, and if it’s not absolutely essential, it stays at home. I prefer to think of it as fishing rather than camping! Everything has its place and everything is done in exactly the same manner every single time I set up and break down.
One of the biggest areas in which time can be saved is preparing your rods. If you are starting from scratch, the time it takes to decide on a rig, select components, tie it up, set the rod up, select hookbait bait, attach bait, prepare and attach PVA bags/mesh, cast the rod out, settle line, set on pod, and set alarm… it’s frightening! I’ve timed mates doing this and it can be anything between ten and twenty minutes per rod – and if you are fishing three rods that could be an hour in itself!
Personally, I do all the time consuming bits with regard to baiting preparation at home – so when I get to the bank all I have to do is clip on a pre-made rig, with boilie and rig foam pre-attached, clip on a pre-filled PVA Mesh tube or bag and cast it out – all done in less than a minute!
By doing all the rig and bait preparation at home, not only does it speed the process up, but because I prepare them without rushing, in the comfort of my own kitchen, they are invariably of better quality than anything I could knock up on the bank – which only increases the chances of catching a fish.
The other benefit is in being able to drop on and take advantage within seconds of hitting the water. How many times have you arrived to find fish showing, but by the time you’ve got yourself ready and prepared the moment has passed…?
Since preparing all my gear at home, I honestly can’t count the amount of times I’ve caught a fish within ten minutes of arriving at a water – and that’s within ten minutes of pulling onto the car park, not within ten minutes of having your lines in the water – two very different things! I know for a fact I would not have caught these fish had I needed to first make set ups, sort bait etc. In many cases, these fish have not even been caught from swims I have then gone to set up in, they were just opportune moments where a fish happened to be in a certain place at a certain time and I was able to take advantage.
As a general rule, my standard preparation will first be to make rigs. I have a little rig board within my tackle pouch on which I have a stock of say five rigs, and will always have two of each type ready to go. If I’m using PVA bags (which I like to during the summer months), I will bait my rigs with boilies and rig foam, then prepare the PVA Bags and tie then all up with the hooklink buried inside. I may do this with four or five bags with different rigs, so that once I get to the water all I have to do is select the rig I want, clip it and the bag onto the line and cast it out. If I catch fish during the session, I just go back to the bucket and pull out another pre-prepared bag and rig of the same type, clip it on and I’m away again.
In winter, I prefer to use PVA Mesh which I find melts quicker and often gives a better presentation in cold water conditions. In this instance, I will mount hookbaits and foam to the hooklinks in my tackle pouch, and then will pre-prepare a good number of PVA Mesh tubes. I have PVA Mesh links on all my leads, so all I need to do when I get to the water is clip on my hooklink, clip on my mesh, then nick the mesh with my hook and again I’m away. Likewise, I also have a stock of ready-made tubes for the session so if I have a fish I just select another one and away I go.
During the summer months, in addition to my static approaches detailed above, I will always have a stalking rod ready to go at a moment’s notice. In most cases this will be set up for surface fishing and will, literally, have hooklink, controller and hookbait already attached – so that on arrival, should I see an opportunity, I can grab the rod, net and mat, and be fishing in under a minute!
A good example of fishing in this way was a session up on a day-ticket water I run, a few months back. I arrived to fish myself, but first went to see a customer set up carp fishing on the Pleasure Pool. I spent a few minutes chatting to him and he said it had been a little slow. After passing the time for a few minutes, I headed back to grab my gear in order to set up on the Specimen Pool. As I walked back to the car, I could see a good sized mirror up on top basking in the sun, inches off the margin in the Doubles Pool, which sits right next to the Pleasure Pool. With my surface rod ready and waiting in the car, I was down to the water’s edge within a minute, crouching behind the dense foliage and lowering down a whittled down pop up – already pre-mounted - as close as I dared place it without spooking the fish. The fish took one look, moved forward and took it straight down. The moment it dropped back down I lifted into it and the water exploded!
I would honestly say I hooked the fish within three minutes of leaving the guy in his swim. He had no idea what had happened and just came over on hearing the commotion, at which point he saw me attached to a very angry carp ploughing up and down the margin! I can’t repeat what he said, but I’ll never forget the look on his face… it was an absolute picture!
For me personally, the added bonus of preparing things at home is that the kids love it. Violet likes nothing better than to fettle about with all my fishing paraphernalia, and making up a load of PVA bags with dad ranks on an equal footing with all things pink or princess-ish! She loves filling the bags and has got it off to an absolute T; crushing the boilies, mixing in the pellet, placing in the hooklinks, loading the bags, tying them off… as soon as she’s safe left with a hooklink, I’ll leave her to it!
So, next time you’re sat at home trying to while away the hours until your next session, why not do a bit of pre-planning and get as much ready as you can before you go… it could be the quickest way you can find to banking a few extra fish!